Archive for April, 2015

The Brazilian Workers’ Party: Buried in systemic chaos

Monday, April 20th, 2015

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for April 3, 2015. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Raúl Zibechi

Systemic crisis and chaos work like a pillaging machine that leaves nothing in place: it destroys, devastates, annihilates whatever it finds in its path. It subjugates the lives of the dominated and the dominating, although both have ways of dealing with the new situation. Those on top try to profit from the chaos in order to stay on top. Those below face greater challenges whenever their survival is at stake. They can come out unscathed only in movement and in community, struggling alongside others on whom disorder has forced brother- and sisterhood.

Systemic chaos tends to destroy all the actors as a whole (to neutralize and transform their identities), beginning with the most fragile and least resistant. The Lefts cease being Lefts not because they have little support — they can have millions of votes — but because, interwoven with power and with the powerful, they have cast aside the ethics for staying on top. What happened with the Workers’ Party [PT – Partido dos Trabalhadores] of Brazil is a good example.

It is worthwhile to read a recent interview with Frei Betto conducted on March 30 by O Estado de São Paulo. During the military dictatorship he worked in ecclesiastical base communities contributing to the founding of the PT. He acted as part of Lula’s first administration (from 2003 to 2005) as coordinator of the Hambre Cero [Zero Hunger] program. He quit after two years, at the time of the disclosure of the corruption scandal over monthly payments to opposition members of congress so they would vote for their bills and wrote Mosca Azul: Una Reflexión sobre el PT en el Poder. (more…)

The way it was: Telling on the Army

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Out about the military

[A few years ago, when Bill Clinton was president and don’t-ask-don’t-tell was first being debated, I wrote an article for a proposed book of writings by lesbian and gay veterans on our experiences in the military. The book was never finished. But now the 50th anniversary of the April, 1965, uprising in the Dominican Republic and the subsequent U.S. invasion is approaching and since my own participation in that invasion was central to my experience of the army and to the article I wrote, I am posting the article here. It is, of course, dated by now but I believe it is still relevant.]

by David Holmes Morris

Life was really pretty easy by the time I got settled at Ft. Devens in the spring of 1964. I hadn’t expected it to be. Basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, (Fort Lost-in-the-Woods to us) was as miserable as basic training is cracked up to be, especially for those like me who weren’t physically fit enough to run miles in combat boots or competent enough with rifles to hit targets. We were the weaklings (the others had a different word for us) and the objects of abuse for the lifers who ran the place.

Some miracle got most of us through, though, or, in my case at least, some quota and the recognition that electronic spying called for different abilities than physical combat did. Once through basic, those of us destined for the Army Security Agency were sent to Ft. Devens, a few miles west of Boston, for specialized training.

At Devens we were schooled in the arts of intercepting radio communications and tapping telephones. There were other lessons for me, though. Even before I made my first trip to Boston I happened on a certain men’s room at a certain PX not far from my barracks that other GIs had long since found uses for besides those the Army intended. (more…)

What the coup and the dictatorship meant for Brazil

Sunday, April 5th, 2015
((Rachel Clemens refuses to shake hands with dictatorial President João Figueiredo))

((Rachel Clemens refuses to shake hands with dictatorial President João Figueiredo))

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for April 1, 2015. See original here and related article here.]

by Emir Sader

Brazil had spent three decades constructing a national development project, with equitable distribution of income, and less than two decades of political democratization when the military coup of 1964 broke with these two currents and installed a military dictatorship and an economic model of over-exploitation of labor, concentration of income, luxury consumption and exportation.

It was a movement promoted by big business, the government of the United States, the domestic and international media, with the support of the Catholic Church. For the sake, supposedly, of the salvation of democracy, which was said to be in danger – the marches were called Marcha com Deus, pela Familia e pela Liberdade (March with God, for the Family and for Freedom) – they instituted the most brutal dictatorship Brazil had ever seen.

It was a radical turn in Brazilian history. The building of democracy and a national and popular project begun in 1930 with Getúlio [Dorneles Vargas] were interrupted abruptly. In addition to repression of everything that appeared democratic to them – popular parties, labor unions, the media, universities, congress, the judiciary, among others – a tightening of salaries was decreed immediately. Because it was not just a political dictatorship against democracy, it was also a dictatorship of big business against the working class. (more…)